Is your SEM team drowning in data?

Strategic Enrolment Management is an evidence-driven discipline, but is it possible to have too much data? According to our research, that’s exactly how many SEM professionals feel.

But why would having more evidence make higher ed pros feel overwhelmed? Data is supposed to reduce stress, not add to it.


In our years working in the trenches with Canadian SEM professionals, we've learned that there’s one major culprit for data fatigue, and that’s the lack of a clear, multi-year enrolment plan. With a clear plan, everyone has a shared understanding of how to interpret and leverage new data, while institutions without a plan feel like they have to constantly shift their attention in whatever direction the data currents are flowing.

Nearly half of all SEM professionals working in the US say that their job doesn’t leave enough time for strategic planning (See End Notes). It’s much the same in Canada, where many SEM teams feel that even if they had access to the best data possible, they wouldn’t be able to use it for lack of a clear plan and proper resources to implement it.

This can be a demoralizing situation for any team, and it can make SEM professionals feel like they’re barely keeping their heads above water. They’d like to swim to the nearest sunny beach for SEM success, but have trouble committing to a single direction.

Coming up with a comprehensive SEM strategy isn’t easy, and neither is building consensus around it. But this is exactly what Canada’s institutions need, and the effort often begins with one or two enterprising individuals who step up and say, "Enough is enough. It’s time to look at our plan." That’s the moment when real change begins to happen.

In many cases, taking the initiative with your school’s SEM strategy will mean communicating effectively with a SEM committee with diverse stakeholders and rallying them around a plan. Current best practices in SEM have shown that one of the most effective ways to do this is to link your planning not only to your short-term enrolment needs, but also to the core academic mission of your institution. Once this is achieved, it will feel as though the members of your school’s SEM team can all begin pulling in the same direction.

Once you have a clear sense of direction, data will no longer feel like a wave crashing over you. It’ll still be a wave, mind you, but one that you’ll feel yourself surfing on top of, carrying you and your school toward your SEM goals. The more timely and accurate the data, the more momentum you will gain in your efforts. Soon enough, you’ll need to know more and more about why applicants choose to attend your school, why some applicants don’t convert, and what kind of experience students have once they’ve enrolled. Armed with a strategy, all of this information will become invaluable insights that propel your ongoing SEM success.

If you are interested in learning more about how Academica Group can help your school with timely and insightful SEM research and consulting, please don’t hesitate to contact us at your convenience. Or if you’d prefer to chat over the phone, you can reach us toll-free at 1-866-922-8636 ext. 228.


  1. "Enrolment Management and Big Data in an Era of Change." (2017). Chronicle of Higher Education. 22.

At Academica Group, we’re proud to work with hundreds of committed, passionate higher ed professionals who want to drive improvement at their institutions. By providing enhanced research capacity and expert guidance, we allow these professionals to work beyond resource limitations and seize more opportunities to positively impact the lives of their students, colleagues, and campus communities.

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